Selling millions of albums and DVDs worldwide has turned the all-female ensemble group Celtic Woman into exemplary ambassadors to their native Ireland. Their music, which reinvents traditional Celtic songs and puts and Irish spin on contemporary tunes has struck a chord with many people across the globe.
What started as a performance on a PBS special followed by a self-titled album that rocketed to number one of the Billboard World Albums chart, has today turned into a into a worldwide phenomenon. The quartette, which includes Máiréad Nesbitt, Susan McFadden, Lisa Lambe and Chloë Agnew, is now touring the country in support of their seventh album, “Believe”.
They've exported their sound and culture to all reaches of the earth, but in a sit-down with Fox411 they say Ireland holds a special place in their hearts.
Celtic Woman’s Agnew and McFadden give an ideal guide of what to do and see in Dublin --the capital city of their cherished homeland-- and beyond.
Agnew: Well, the heart of Dublin, the city center, Grafton Street, that whole area there, there is wonderful shopping there and a great energy about it and Temple Bar is right beside it.
McFadden: And the Molly Malone Statue. It's actually sort of a meeting place, isn't it? If you're going to meet friends, you always say, 'I'll meet you at the Molly Malone Statue.' It's at the end of Grafton Street, it's a real point of focus for everybody and it's right beside Trinity College as well.
Agnew: Book of Kells is right beside Trinity College, so it's all in the heart of the city there.
McFadden: It's very compact, actually. It doesn't take too long to get from one little area to the next.
Fox411: You must be very proud to be Irish.
Agnew: It's amazing! I think, when we travel, the more we travel now all over the world, the more Irish we meet, everywhere. And people here particularly, here in The States, they will always says, 'Oh, I am half Irish, 'I'm one thirteenth Irish.' And if they are not Irish they want to be. Particularly around Patrick's Day, it's a great time to be Irish. We are proud of it.
Fox411: What's it like to perform there?
McFadden: It's probably a bit more nerve wrecking, you know? Performing for your own people. We've been away performing all over the world and then to come back to where it all started, where the roots of it all began, it's a big stress.
Agnew: It is, actually. Performing in front of your family and friends, but that is where we grew up performing, so there is a real heart there.
McFadden: And Irish people aren't afraid to be honest, you know? They are very honest, they'll tell you what they think.
Fox411: What are some key locations for a traveler?
Agnew: The Blarney Stone and that's a great one to visit and the Cliffs of Moher. The west coast of Ireland is incredible and Cork and Galway.
McFadden: My father is from Donegal, which is on the northwest of Ireland, it's along the coast and there are some amazing beaches and scenery and cliffs up there. That's a place that I hold very dear to my heart actually. It's beautiful up there.
Agnew: It's amazing when people actually come to Ireland. If they are there for two weeks they can essentially do the whole country. I think you can drive it in a couple of hours.
McFadden: A half-a-day probably. It's not a long journey.
Agnew: I only heard recently, it fits into the state of Texas eight and half times, or something like that. (It's really about 3.7 Irelands inside of one Texas.)
McFadden: What? Oh, my God!
Agnew: All of Ireland fits into the state of Texas that many times.
McFadden: It's very doable. You can see everything in a couple of weeks.
Fox411: Tell us about the food and drinks of Ireland
Agnew: Some of the best in the world, I think.
McFadden: The Guinness factory in Dublin is an amazing to go. I went there recently actually for the first time and it was amazing, and it goes through the history of where it began and how and why and it's amazing and you do the taste-testing and you can go to the tower at the top and you can see over the whole of Dublin and you can pour your own pint of Guinness. So, Guinness, obviously, our most famous drink.
Agnew: Well, the Irish, it's no secret that we're not short of any bars or pubs in Ireland. There's plenty of them and some of the best seafood in the world in Ireland.
McFadden: There's a beautiful place in Dublin called Howth as well which is right on the sea and there's beautiful yachts and everything and they have amazing seafood
Fox411: What must travelers carry with them?
Agnew: Rain jackets and more rain jackets.
McFadden: An umbrella, anything to do with rain.
Agnew: That's why I think it's so green because we get a lot of rain. But September is a lovely time to go to Ireland.